Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day we feature a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

August 17, 1995
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.
Neptune: Big Blue Giant
Credit: NASA, Voyager 2, Copyright Calvin J. Hamilton

Explanation: This picture was taken by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1986 - the only spacecraft ever to visit Neptune. Neptune will be the farthest planet from the Sun until 1999, when the elliptical orbit of Pluto will cause it to once again resume this status. Neptune, like Uranus, is composed mostly of liquid water, methane and ammonia, is surrounded by a thick gas atmosphere of mostly hydrogen and helium, and has many moons and rings. Neptune's moon Triton is unlike any other and has active volcanoes. The nature of Triton's unusual orbit around Neptune is the focus of much discussion and speculation.

Tomorrow's picture: Pluto: The Frozen Planet

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Astronomy Picture of the Day (TM) is created and copyrighted in 1995 by Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell who are solely responsible for its content.

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